Eagle Scout Gives Sandy Police New K-9 ObstaclesJul 01, 2016 09:28AM ● By Chris Larson
Left to right: Sandy Police Officer Knight with K-9 Joker, Austin Cole, Sandy Police Officer Erika Smith with K-9 Fox. —Sarah Knight Photography
By Chris Larson | [email protected]
Sandy City police’s K-9 unit replaced damaged K-9 agility obstacles with the new obstacles designed and built by soon-to-be Eagle Scout Austin Cole of Riverton City.
Austin, 16, and his father, Lane Cole, have a special appreciation for K-9 police units and dogs because Cole was a K-9 officer for Sandy City Police for eight years before starting his cabinet business in Sandy.
Austin delivered an A-frame climbing obstacle and bar-jump obstacle for Sandy’s four K-9 units to train with on April 21. Cole said he remembered building the old A-frame at his sergeant’s home when he was a part of the K-9 unit in the late ’90s.
The wooden A-frame is 71 inches tall and 48 inches wide when set up, with three cleats or small rungs on each side. The bar lump resembles a bench press rack or Olympic high-jump bar, made of welded steel with bar settings that go from 2.5 feet to 4.5 feet in six-inch increments.
Cole said it’s relatively easy to teach dogs to jump solid obstacles, but rather difficult to get them to jump over something the dog can see through. He said this skill is helpful for getting dogs to avoid hazards on the ground like broken glass.
Cole worked with K-9 Briston, a Malinois, when he was with Sandy police.
“Agility work builds a bond between the police dog and the handler,” Officer Erika Smith, Sandy police K-9 supervisor, said in an email. “It also instills confidence in the police dogs and helps them prepare for obstacles they may encounter in street deployments.”
Austin first contacted the police department in November 2015 and was able to have his project approved and started raising donations from his local church congregation in mid-February 2016.
Austin managed volunteers, some of them fellow Scouts from Team 7311, who came to his father’s cabinet shop to help build the equipment. He recorded 41 man-hours during the execution of the project.
“I don’t think the police deserve the amount of disrespect they face,” Austin said. “I just want to show that there are still people out there who care about them and what they do for us.”
Austin estimates that the final application and assessment process will place his receipt of the award in early July 2016.
After making the delivery to Sandy City Hall, the K-9 units trained on them and had a little fun, which included putting Austin in a bite-suit for apprehension training.
Initially, they had a K-9 on a leash train with bite-and-release on the bite-suit arm.
“Then they told me to turn around and just run,” Austin said. “I could hear its feet getting super close and then I don’t hear them anymore and I know they are off the ground and that was pretty scary.”
Austin is a sophomore at Riverton High School where he enjoys studying college technology education courses, history, math and biology. Because of his personal love of dogs and admiration of K-9 units, he is considering making his career in law enforcement. He is also considering studying civil engineering at the University of Utah. His parents are Utah natives and lifelong residents. Cole owns and operates Cole Custom Cabinets. λ